- It was not uncommon for Saphire to be found drunk by the roadside but this time it was different. The women were wailing while the men spoke in low tones.
- Some went to Saphire’s home while others, with twigs and anything they could get went to Hitler’s home baying for his blood – for it was clear Hitler’s drink was responsible for Saphire’s death.
- Almost everyone took off on seeing Saphire walk home. All except his family. His mother came and hugged him, as did his sisters. His father was happy too although I could see he was already wearing Saphire’s shoes. His brother as well was already wearing Saphire’s Kaunda suit — and I could see disappointment on his face on seeing Saphire alive.
Following the directive from Bensouda, our female Headmaster, that all teachers report last Monday, all but two teachers reported. Only Nzomo did not report, as she is still holed up in Nunguni, Ukambani, waiting for the government to pay her September salary to enable her to travel to Mwisho wa Lami. And of course Saphire, who no one at school knew his whereabouts.
Although Bensouda had called for a staff meeting at 7.30 am, it wasn’t until about 9.30 am that she arrived at school. She was in a foul mood – as she started quarrelling right from the gate, saying that the school was dirty.
“What kind of deputy are you?” she asked me when I went to her office after she summoned me. “Is this how your home looks like?” I wanted to tell her that I had no home but just kept quiet. With no money in the pocket, I was in no mood to pick an argument with her.
“The staff meeting will begin in the next five minutes,” she said. “Ensure every teacher is seated when I come.”
I sent one student to call all the teachers who were in class, but Bensouda came to the staff room about half an hour later.
“Has the meeting began?” she asked on arrival.
“We were waiting for you,” said Sella.
“What if I didn’t come? No meeting would be held?” she asked. “Dre sometimes you amaze me!” And looking at Kuya, she said, “Kuya, never hesitate to take up responsibility whenever you see a problem. Otherwise this school will come to an end if we rely on the so called Deputy.” The meeting was brief, as she told the teachers that she expected them to be in class.
“The strike is over and we need to be in class to compensate for lost time,” This was interrupted by some noises from outside. It was a woman loudly wailing.
“Luwere Saphire wanje, Luwere Saphire wanje!” cried the woman. “Walimu mlikuwa wapi Saphire akienda, mlikuwa wapi?” she went on, bringing the school to a standstill.
It was Saphire’s mother and we did not need a compass to know that that was a funeral song.
“What?” wondered Madam Ruth, tears rolling down her cheeks. “That can’t be true, I was with Saphire yesterday.” Mrs Atika, went and held Saphire’s mother who was now hysterical, asking why the school had abandoned her son.
She then told us that Saphire’s body was by the roadside near Hitler’s place and I rushed there, followed by Kuya, Oscar and Sella.
We found a crowd around Saphire’s lifeless body. It was not uncommon for Saphire to be found drunk by the roadside but this time it was different. The women were wailing while the men spoke in low tones.
Shortly afterwards, the assistant chief arrived and, looking at me, asked where Saphire had been all along. “He has never been in school since school opened,” I told him.
“Have you ever tried to look for him?” the administrator asked me. I told him it was not unusual for Saphire to disappear then reappear.
“I blame the government for all this,” said Rasto, who had just arrived. “After missing his September salary, Saphire was so broke that he had to start splitting firewood for Hitler so that he could get a drink everyday.”